by Venia Veselovsky
The Gulf of California is located in the Pacific Ocean, between Baja and the mainland of Mexico. The geographical area of the Gulf of California is formed by an almost uninterrupted chain of mountains, which makes the water climate more continental compared to other seas. The Gulf is also known as the Sea of Cortes and the Vermilion Sea.
Our class went to the Baja Peninsula. The peninsula was discovered in 1533 by Spanish conqueror Herman Cortes. The reason that we chose Baja is because it is home to a unique and rich ecosystem, with a wide range of indigenous species and over 5000 macro invertebrates (which we went to study). We joined a group called Ecology Project International (EPI). The Gulf has more then 900 islands, and we visited one of them called Isla Espiritu Santos. We stayed at the island for 4 days, where we went sea star monitoring and learned about benthic marine invertebrates. Most of Baja California is a desert, with a very low rainfall of only 6.2 Inches a year. This makes Baja have almost no agriculture and vegetation. Living in Canada, our class is used to cold winters, tons of snow, mosquitos, and vegetation everywhere we look. That makes the desert environment in Baja a big change to us. When we first laid our eyes on the land most of us hadn’t seen a cactus in our life, and when some of us learnt there was more than one cactus we were flabbergasted.
The water in the Gulf of California was also another big change; we knew that it was going to be salt water, but the strange bit is the water gets unusually high heat flows called Hydrothermal Activity. This comes from convection currents in the mantle rising beneath the Gulf. In conclusion, the trip to Baja was amazing. We learnt all about macro invertebrates, and all sorts of indigenous species. This was a trip in a lifetime that I will never forget.